Next time you walk into Red Hot Lovers on East University Avenue at 3 a.m., watch out for the spunky cook with the two Star Trek tattoos preparing your meal.

Max Collins/Daily

Ann Arbor resident Lynzie Austin might just feature you in her next cartoon.

Customers have inspired a few of Austin’s creations, especially those that frequent the restaurant during the “drunk rush.”

“Drunk guys give me the best stories,” she said as she pointed to her drawing of a tipsy robot with a slouched electronic hat. “I always have enough to fill up a comic strip or two.”

Austin, who has worked as a cook at Red Hot Lovers for about a year, works from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. six days a week. The night shift might seem exhausting to most people, but not to Austin.

“I’m an insomniac, so it’s not a big deal,” she said.

Although she’s usually found behind the counter, you might be able to catch Austin during slow hours sitting in her favorite booth in the back left corner of the restaurant expanding her book of cartoons.

Austin started drawing cartoons at around age 15. She didn’t take any art classes growing up, so drawing comics became a “creative outlet.” She started her first series in 2002, known as the “Hungry Bunny” after her friend told her to draw a bunny eating a waffle.

“I never looked back after that,” she said.

The “Hungry Bunny” series has been published in “Whatever” and “Raw” by Tom Q. Currently, Austin is working on a series of comics to put in a book, in addition to a “Robot and Dinosaurs” series that she started about a month ago.

Her craft is mostly self-taught, but she has also taken a few classes.
“I can do comics all day,” she said.

Austin said thoughts of drawing as a full-time career have crossed her mind. Five years from now, she doesn’t see herself as a cook at Red Hot Lovers.

“I want to go to school to be a tattoo artist,” she said. “And hopefully I’ll still be doing comics.”

Austin believes her comics convey a message to all of her viewers.

“It doesn’t have to be well-drawn to be funny,” she said. “Everything has to be taken with a grain of salt.”

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